Business: Only a Few Are Authoritative

Master Letters

NEVER before has there been so much advice pouring out of Wall Street on the state of the stock market, and never have investors cupped their ears so eagerly. In 1956, according to the New York Stock Exchange, no fewer than 30,700 market letters poured forth from 296 of its member firms, giving advice on what to buy and sell. Total circulation: an estimated 10 million. Estimated worth of most of them, in the opinion of most Wall Street professionals: "Not a hoot in hell."

Wall Streeters praise carefully prepared securities reports on particular stocks or industries, which go largely to...

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